소공녀 So-gong-nyeo (Microhabitat, 2017)

There are a lot of contemporary films about city life, about young women, about precarious living arrangements, and about getting older and losing some of the connections that brought you together at university and in your 20s, and most of them sort of glide on by as just so much cinematic filler, not bad but hardly memorable. But this Korean film has a little something extra, a very poised and precise framing, and an excellent central performance, which really brings out the pathos and the quiet desperation without any excess or even much in the way of extraneous dialogue. The film holds a warm yet slightly quizzical distance from Mi-so (Esom), a 30-something woman who is still working as a cleaner and has given up her small apartment because the rent has gone up and she’d rather not give up her small vices (cigarettes, primarily, and a glass of whisky every so often too). She reconnects with her former bandmates from college as she sorts out where to live, but this isn’t a Nick Hornby film, and meeting them only emphasises the different paths they’ve all travelled. And so we’re left with the melancholy, after a fashion, but it’s all just so achingly evoked.

Film posterCREDITS
Director/Writer Jeon Go-woon 전고운; Cinematographer Kim Tae-soo 김태수; Starring Esom 이솜, Ahn Jae-hong 안재홍; Length 106 minutes.
Seen at home (Mubi streaming), London, Thursday 4 April 2019.